Cookbook: The Australian Women’s Weekly Cook
I got together with a few other Cookbook Challengers, Arale 79, Kat and Agnes, for a Greek cooking feast for this week’s theme. Greek is a cuisine I don’t have often, though I don’t mind it. I never cook Greek food at home and as a result, have never bought any Greek cookbooks so I went searching through my other cookbooks to find a suitable recipe. I turned to the Australian Women’s Weekly Cook cookbook first because the AWW recipes seem to always work out and taste pretty good.
Moussaka is a well known Greek dish, but I have only tried it once at a Greek restaurant and didn’t think much of it. I have recently taken to eating eggplant so I decided to try making moussaka myself. Moussaka is similar to the Italian lasagne, except that it uses sliced eggplants as the lasagne sheets and lamb mince for the filling.
I underestimated the time to make this dish – cutting and frying up the eggplants took a long time! I found several different recipes for moussaka and some said you didn’t need to cook the eggplants first and others called for grilling the eggplant. Though it may seem tedious, try not to skip the step of salting the eggplants and frying them. I think it makes a difference!
2 large eggplants (approx. 1kg), sliced thinly
Salt (for eggplants)
Oil for frying
1 large brown onion (approx. 200g), chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1kg lamb mince
425g crushed tomatoes – I used whole peeled tomatoes but smashed them up
½ cup (125ml) dry white wine
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup (40g) finely grated parmesan (or however much you want!)
1. Remove top and skin (optional) from eggplant and thinly slice.
2. Sprinkle eggplant all over with salt and place in colander. Stand for 30 minutes then rinse with cold water and drain.
3. Pat eggplant dry with absorbent paper. Heat oil in a large frypan and cook eggplant, in batches, for a couple of minutes until browned on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper.
4. Cook onion and garlic until onion softens.
5. Add lamb mince and cook until lamb changes colour.
6. Stir in undrained tomatoes, wine and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. I skimmed the excess oil from the mixture at this point.
7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Oil at least a 2.6L baking dish.
8. Make white sauce (see below).
9. Place a third of eggplant at the bottom of the dish, overlapping slices slightly. Spread half the meat sauce over the eggplant. Repeat layering, finishing with a layer of eggplant. Spread white sauce over top and sprinkle with parmesan.
10. Cook, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until top browns lightly. I only needed about 25 minutes.
11. Cover moussaka and stand 10 minutes before serving. I missed this step (we were hungry!) and it was a bit runny to scoop out of the baking dish.
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
2 cups (500ml) hot milk
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan.
2. Add flour and keep stirring (or whisking) until mixture thickens and bubbles.
3. Gradually add milk, constantly stirring (or whisking) after each addition until mixture boils and thickens.
Results: Hubby and I enjoyed this dish a lot more than we were expecting! The other girls liked it too (or maybe they were just being nice because I made it!) The lamb was flavoursome and the eggplants were so soft. The béchamel white sauce gave the moussaka a lovely creaminess. The cinnamon was a bit overbearing with the first bite, but I soon got used to it.
Would I make it again? Yes, though I would allow more time for preparation!
Over & Out, Rilsta xx